Sunday, May 25, 2008

CapTexTri 2008

Capitol of Texas Triathlon - one of the biggest Olympic distance events in Texas (according to the propaganda) was held in Austin on May 25, 2008. It was my first Olympic. We arrived in Austin yesterday about 1pm or so and spent about an hour in line to pick up my packet. We then attended the rules seminar and the race course seminar, checked in the bike, cruised the Expo and then decided it was time for dinner.

The alarm went off at 4:15 this morning. Ouch. We were staying about 20 minutes from the course and with 2500 participants, 1500 in the Olympic, 700 in the sprint and 300 in the First Tri, I wanted to get a good parking place so I wouldn't have to hike miles after the race. Yeah, yeah, I know...I am an athlete - walk....but I will have just covered about 30 miles under my own power and to save a few more footsteps would be nice. So we got over to the site and scored a very close spot to leave the vehicle. Got transition set up and then wetsuited up for the swim.

The Swim
When I walked out on the launch dock yesterday, it seemed they had put the turning buoys way to far down the could barely see them. Well, not to worry, they will move them into position by morning. Not really, see, this morning they were still two bridges away. Yes, two bridges -- note to self, watch the pilings when you go under the bridge. The pros went off pretty close to 7 and I was in the third wave (this ultimately turned out very good as it just kept getting hotter). So it was national anthem, pros in the water and before you know it I was bobbing in Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) getting ready to swim about a mile. It would be my longest open water swim yet. The gun goes off and me and about 150 of my closest friends get after it...bumping, smacking, pushing, grabbing, none of it intentional, just part of the process. I think it is really pretty cool. Soon you are out of the washing machine and just stroking your way up the lake. I am fortunate to swim pretty straight so I don't have to sight all that much and before I knew it, I was looking at the turn buoy - make a right here and another right about 100 yards further up and head back toward the starting area, make the right at that turn buoy and then arms are grabbing you to help you stand up and get out of the water. One interesting tidbit, on the return trip my left hand contacted something really hard about 18-24 inches underwater. Looking down, I was pulling myself over a block of concrete, looked like some kind of footing or piling for an old bridge or dock or something. Let me tell you, it was startling.

I had made the decision to walk the transitions ahead of time. As I moved into transition, they had us racked as far as physically possible from the bike out. No biggie, just more walking in my cycle shoes. I sat down to put on my cycle shoes and immediately got a cramp in my left hammy and calf. So I took some time and walked it out a little and massaged it some to try to make it feel better. Surprisingly, I never felt it again but it did slow down my transition.

The bike was a 4 lap ride. Yeah, 1500 Oly athletes on a 4 loop course....there WILL be drafting - no option. Someone said they had calculated that there was not arithmetic way that all those bikes could be in proper position on the course at one time. Needless to say, my third and fourth laps were really crowded. Less than 5 minutes into the ride, my Aero Bottle's velcro strap that holds it in the bracket came loose and out of the bracket. I almost lost the bottle and held it in with my left hand for a couple of minutes and then realized I was going to have to stop and fix it. Bummer, it cost me some time but I could not have held it the entire ride. That would have been miserable. The ride was really fast for me, over 19 miles per hour average. I also lost my little yellow bottle stopper thingy and also my electrolyte replacement pills so that really sucked as much fluid as I lost today. I paid for the lost of the electrolytes later and learned to have some spares in transition but they were gone today. All in all, even with the stop, this was a great ride for me.

About 2/3 of the way into the ride, I knew I would have to make a pit stop in T2. So I racked the bike, grabbed the hat and race belt, changed shoes, made a pit stop and started on the 10k run in blistering sun.

The Run
At that time, I was at about 2 hours racing and I entertained some thought of a 3 hour Oly debut. Then my body reminded me it was about 1000 degrees with 250% would be a slow run. It was a 2 lap run course with several aid stations. They added one or two yesterday due to the weather to the ones already planned. At one aid station, at Jack and Adam's Bike Shop, they were not only serving water and ice, they had the garden hose out and would hose you down as you ran by...that was great. Part of the run course also got you into downtown so you had a little shade from the buildings. The run was pretty grueling but all in all was uneventful, just hot and long.

So the final times were:
Swim 34:05
T1 5:51
Bike 1:17:50
T2 4:44
Run 1:13:19
Total 3:15:51

My take: I was slow in the transitions but with the cramp and the pit stop I guess I was okay. The run was painfully slow - I have always been slow but I think even with the conditions I could or should have gone faster. On the flip side, I was very pleased with my swim and bike.

I ended up toward the bottom of my age group which is fine, there are some very fast people in Austin and I was glad to be there and to play. I was ranked 833 overall out of approximately 1500 and I am cool with that too. I had originally said anything between 3:30 and 3:45 would have been okay with me. After the bike, I dreamed of 3:00 for about 8 seconds and then came back to reality. Looking at 3:15 seemed a little more reasonable so that became my target. All in all, I was really pleased with my time. There are always going to be those who are faster than me but I can honestly say I don't think there is anyone who enjoys the experience more. It hurts, sure, but I try to take in every moment and I encourage you to do the same. We really are lucky to be able to do this.

The event:
This is a very well run, large triathlon. It was a blast and I will definitely do it again. My compliments to the race director and all of his volunteers. After a rain out last year, they rallied beautifully to run an exceptional race today in spite of the conditions. It would have been nice to have a more spread out bike course, it got really crowded, but the urban nature of this event is really cool.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Time to go

Times Up!
The training deposits are all in the bank and now it is off to showtime. The time is here to enjoy all the sweat. All the "why am I doing this?" questions. All the "I could so be doing something else" comments. The FINISH LINE awaits.

The FINISH LINE! You probably know the feeling - the chute and the banner comes into view and a smile appears inside if not on your face. You know you have done it...let's face it, you knew you could do it, there was no doubt...or was there...just a little...maybe???

There is not much in life that feels like a FINISH LINE. If you haven't felt it - go for it - 5k, 10k, sprint triathlon, whatever. Just go feel what a FINISH LINE means.

See you at the FINISH LINE!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Almost there...

A great short run today but it was HOT! Mid-nineties...ouch. I hope Sunday is a little cooler when I finish. The only workout left is a 400 yard swim tomorrow. Almost not worth getting wet but I will....I really feel ready.

I look back to a year ago and am amazed at my willingness, or even excitement, to cover 32 miles, give or take, under my own power on Sunday. Then - 32 yards would have been a challenge. It is unbelievable what you can do. I have a friend who years ago shared the following quote - maybe it fits here: "The sight of the gallows focuses the mind."

Yesterday I received my XLAB Carbon Wing Hydration System from It is incredibly cool. I won't use it this weekend. I am following the nothing new on race day rule. But I can't wait to mount it on my bike. It looks aero in the cardboard box.

Happy Memorial Day Everyone! Please take a moment this weekend and remember the real meaning of Memorial Day and remember those for whom the day stands as a monument to their memory. My gratitude goes out to everyone who has served and all who have lost someone who has served. If you have lost someone who served, My thoughts are with you and I appreciate their sacrifice. If you served, Thanks for my freedom.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Let's Go!

Last big brick today.


Let's go race.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Did I do enough....

Well, it's time. All those interesting thoughts, "did I do enough?", "why didn't I train more?", "why did I skip those workouts?", "I may die", "I think I should bike 25 miles and run 6 miles each day this week to be sure I can" and all the other things that we begin to doubt as an important event nears.

Don't get me wrong. I can taper - I love to taper - I am a professional taperer, I had 47 years of tapering practice - I can do it to perfection. But DOUBT rears its ugly head trying to interrupt my taper. Get behind me Satan. I have earned my taper. Even if I am hurting in the race (I am going to be okay, right?), I am proud of my taper and am going to exploit it to the max.

Please comment and tell me that you too, have these thoughts. Please reassure me that it is not just me. Please. Now. Thanks.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Taper Begins....

I got my workout plan from Coach Annie last night and was shocked. The email said "welcome to your taper". I really thought I had another tough week before the slave driver let up on me. She's not really a slave driver but she is tough. (I put that last sentence in just in case she reads this...maybe she won't take it out on me.)

So, long brick today - hour bike and 50 minute run...race simulation. The weather was pretty tough - over 80 degrees, 75% humidity and winds 18-20. I hope it is a kinder, gentler climate in 14 days.

Long swim last night. Swam 2000 non-stop for the first time ever. I felt really good at the end and could have gone longer. I am amazed. In June of 2007, my first swim "workout" was 37.5 yards. The shoulders were a little tired last night but I felt great this morning.

See you at the finish line.